Drumond Park roundup and today it’s the turn of The Million Pound Drop to face the test of partygoers. Based on the TV show of the same name that challenges the public to bet big or risk losing everything, the board game version has a good twist of its own. So does the gamble pay off or should the game be dropped down the trapdoor in to Room 101?
Just like the TV show you begin with a million pounds in your possession, bundled as sets of £50 notes. Over a series of rounds you then run the risk of losing some or the entire amount. The game continues until you complete all the questions, or are left with nothing. How do you win or lose money? Well you must answer questions correctly, with a sequence of multiple choice questions consisting or four, three and then two possible answers.
That’s where the fun starts. The board game consists of four trap doors that you can place money on to pick your answers. You can put money on as many doors as you like, but must leave one empty. There’s only ever one right answer, so if you spread money across multiple doors you will always lose some of it (or all if the empty door is the correct one). As you have to play all your money every go it’s a fairly tense game of suspense, with one player acting as the presenter, who can add their own delays and pauses to keep you on your toes.
This is the exact same set up as the show, and is actually a fairly good translation to board game form. Sadly we had some difficulties with the trap doors. Opening them requires a tap that causes them to swing down and drop the money. However we couldn’t quite build the set in a way that didn’t mean a door was resting on part of the cardboard so would only swing down by brute force. Other times doors would swing easily and then a minute later be very stiff. The more games we played the better the doors performed, but the door which was always stuck proved elusive.
So the trapdoors are a bit of a fail, but they certainly need to be there to represent the show, and would you rather have a cardboard replica or a £200 piece of advanced technology? Thought so. So on to the other integral part of the board game experience, the questions. Each card has questions on both sides, and two categories, so each round of the game has a possible two questions the contestant can choose from. The answers on these cards are hidden in grey font in grey circles, which is quite clever as you have to really try to see them. This means you can show someone the card without having to hide it sneakily whilst they decide on a category.
When they are ready to proceed you pop the card in to a holder, which gives them the question and possible answers, whilst you can see the correct answer on the back. It’s a good setup and as you can’t see the answer without taking a closer look you can play devil’s advocate as presenter and toy with them whilst they decide where to put the money. You certainly don’t need to worry you’ll give the answer away if it isn’t staring you in the face.
For a game like this to have any sense of suspense it needs to have difficult questions. However at times the questions included can certainly feel a little too tough or potentially too far towards the ends of historical facts and dry recollections of data and unknown knowledge. The best questions are those which take something you know, where the answer is right on the tip of your tongue, and where you need to spread the money to be sure. The worst questions may as well ask you about a separate universe, and can only be guessed. For a game that’s for ages 12+, every question we tried would not be answerable by anyone but the cleverest 12 year old who had done a lot of extracurricular activity.
There’s definitely a fun game here for the quiz master, or the pub quiz champion, and the core elements of the show are certainly all included. If you want a tough quiz game with a twist it’s ideal, but if you find Trivial Pursuit too heavy on general knowledge then this isn’t for you. Eggheads, are you ready to drop?